A Principled Stand
The Story of Hirabayashi v. the United States
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Washington Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi (1918–2012) is best known for being one of three Japanese Americans whose legal challenges to the curfew imposed on and the subsequent removal of Japanese Americans from their homes reached the U.S. Supreme Court during the 1940s. ...
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First and foremost, we thank Gordon’s wife, Susan Carnahan, and his children, Marian, Sharon, and Jay. Lorraine Bannai, Roger Daniels, Jerry Kang, Tetsuden Kashima, Eric Muller, Jeanne Sakata, Paul Tsuneishi, and Karen Tei Yamashita have each shared resources with us. ...
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Part I. An Issei-Nisei Family
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Part I introduces the Hirabayashi family, tracing its roots back to Nagano prefecture, northeast of Tokyo. As compilers of the book, we have drawn freely from Gordon’s personal correspondence and a number of his published and unpublished papers covering his parents’ background and his own upbringing, ...
1. Hotaka to Seattle
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My dad, Shungo, came from Hotaka, a town in the foothills of the Japanese Alps in Nagano prefecture. There was a neighborhood of a dozen Hirabayashi households in a rural setting at the edge of town. He was the eldest son in one of the Hirabayashi households. ...
2. Growing Up in America
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I was born in 1918 in Seattle, the second son. After we moved to our Thomas farm in 1919, my brother Paul, who was two years older, had an accident while riding on his bicycle. The medical care in those days was not good, and Paul died from damage to his kidneys. ...
3. “You’re Going to College”
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Pursuing an education was an automatic for me as long as I could make the grade. Although we were a poor farm family, my parents led me to anticipate university following high school, much as we were expected to move on to high school after elementary school. ...
Part II. Challenges and Incarceration
After the United States entered World War II, Gordon followed a variety of local newspapers on a daily basis. He assiduously cut out articles and pasted them in scrapbooks. Most of the articles he collected indicate that all persons of Japanese or part-Japanese ancestry within the Western Defense Command’s military zones ...
4. World War II
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Returning from New York, I became one of the leaders of the UW student conscientious objectors group right after the first peacetime conscription law [Selective Training and Service Act of 1940] was passed. We were using the YMCA as a meeting place. We needed to discuss many things, with war fever rising. ...
5. Arraignment Summons
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As removal from Seattle drew near, it occurred to me that if I couldn’t tolerate curfew, then how could I agree to be evacuated, which is much worse? I had ignored the curfew order, but the exclusion order was different. If I were roaming the streets, sooner or later I’d be accosted and picked up. ...
6. King County Jail
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Tank—they use that word—3C is the federal tank, and it has a capacity of forty persons. It has two levels of five cells, with four bunks on each side. There are twenty men over here on this aisle, back-to-back. They all face out. At 6 or 6:30 a.m., they open up and keep the hallways open. ...
7. King County Jail Mates
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As for my fellow prisoners, in round figures I would say that maybe 50 percent were there as a result of some kind of wartime regulation violation of one type or another: some resisted the draft or some other type of war-related thing. In other words, they were not your typical “criminal.” ...
8. Jail Visitations
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King County Jail has two days a week that are called visitors’ days. The visiting facility is perfectly horrible here, where you can either talk or look, and you have to yell into an inhuman contraption to be heard. ...
9. World War II Interracial Marriage
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[Diary entries from] King County Jail, August 1942— . . . If more of our so-called love and marriages were based on others’ concerns without ulterior motives, this would be a much happier world in which to live, and more people would experience something more closely approximating true love. ...
10. Prison Meditations
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Pursuing his study of Negro-owned newspapers, Westbrook Pegler notes that some few are “excited about the arbitrary deportation of Japanese and native Americans of Japanese ancestry from military areas of the Pacific Coast” (June 4, 1942; quoted in “Views & Views,” George S. Schuyler, Los Angeles Negro Daily, 6 June 1942). ...
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Two significant things happened this week (July 4, 1942) that were of interest from the legal side. First, my lawyer, Frank Walters, came in with a plea of abatement. This plea stated that I was a native-born citizen of good standing and, as such, should receive the benefits thereof. ...
12. Seattle Federal District Court
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Frank Walters, retained by the Gordon Hirabayashi Defense Committee as chief counsel, was the second lawyer hired. The first was John Geisness, a young, bright lawyer in a large firm that represented the Teamsters Union. The union had objected: “We’re not happy that a firm representing us is taking the Hirabayashi case.” ...
13. U.S. Supreme Court
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March 27, 1943—The court of appeals passed my case to the Supreme Court to decide the constitutionality of Public Law 503 and the Western Defense commander DeWitt’s curfew and evacuation orders. ...
14. Out on Bail
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After the trial, with the stalemate over my bail terms, I remained in jail four months into the appeal period. By that time, Judge Black was willing to release me. We’d become sort of like old friends, in terms of his knowledge of me, and he said, “We ought to get him out.” ...
15. Thumbing to Jail
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Toward the end of summer 1943, about three months after the U.S. Supreme Court decision, I was in Spokane doing my work with the American Friends Service Committee. I was out on bail at the time but still faced a ninety-day sentence. One afternoon as I was mowing the lawn, a couple of guys walked up, ...
16. Catalina Federal Honor Camp
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I said, “It took me a couple of weeks to get down here, and I’d go home, but you’d probably find those papers and I would have to do this all over again.” I suggested that he telephone or telegraph the U.S. attorney in Spokane, the federal judge in Seattle, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C., to clarify my status. ...
17. Federal Prison Again
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February 1944—There were a number of efforts of the leaders of the Japanese American Citizens League to get the government to restore normal citizenship rights to the Japanese Americans. My position on the camps, to the extent it was known to the Japanese community, was an embarrassment to them. ...
Part III. The Postwar Years and Vindication
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Gordon did not continue to keep a personal diary after the war. Nor did he systematically save his own letters or save letters written to him. This obviously makes part III somewhat different in tone and format from parts I and II. ...
18. Early Postwar Experiences
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After finishing my McNeil stint in 1945, I was back in Seattle, and I asked the University of Washington bookstore manager, Ev McRay, if he could get me a job at the bakery across the street. The owner, Marlatt, was a personal friend of McRay’s who expressed interest in hiring me. ...
19. Coram Nobis
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In the early 1980s, Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, senior archivist for the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, discovered an original draft of a manuscript written by General John L. DeWitt, Final Report: Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast, 1942. ...
Appendix 1. Major Publications
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Appendix 2. Professional Positions, Honors, and Awards
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Glossary of Names
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About the Coauthors
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James A. Hirabayashi (1926–2012), son of hardworking immigrant farmers in the Pacific Northwest and brother of Gordon Hirabayashi, was a high school senior in 1942 when he was detained in the Pinedale Assembly Center before being transferred to the Tule Lake Concentration Camp in Northern California. ...
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Publication Year: 2013